Stock futures rally as UK approves new COVID-19 vaccine

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U.S. stock futures were pointing to a higher open Wednesday after U.K. regulators approved a second COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

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Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were higher by 82 points, or 0.27%, while S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures advanced 0.32% and 0.37%, respectively. Early gains would have all three of the major averages contending with record highs.

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Looking at stocks, the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine received emergency use authorization from the U.K.’s health regulator, making it the second vaccination to garner approval from the agency. The vaccine, which has faced questions over discrepancies in clinical trial results, will begin being distributed on Monday.

Elsewhere, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said a trial found its therapy drug effective and that the study would continue.

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Meanwhile, Intel Corp. shares were in focus for a second day after activist investor Dan Loeb’s hedge fund Third Point called on the chipmaker to split its chip manufacturing operations from its chip design and development business.

Fox Corp., the parent company of FOX Business and Fox News, averaged 1.9 million viewers per day and 3.6 million viewers in prime time, both records, according to Nielsen data released Tuesday. It was the fifth straight year that Fox beat out all other news and basic cable channels.

Looking at analyst calls, heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. was named a “top 2021 idea” at Baird, which raised its price target to $220 from $206. Clothing and accessories designer Tapestry Inc. received a price target increase to $35 from $27 at Guggenheim.

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose 45 cents to $48.45 per barrel and gold was lower by 80 cents at $1,882.10 per ounce.

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European markets were little changed with the Euro STOXX 50 down 0.03%.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rallied 2.18% and China’s Shanghai Composite index climbed 1.05%. Japan’s Nikkei lagged, falling 0.45%.

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